Help me, I’m trapped in Dallas airport

Dallas Airport (2)

There it was right in front of me, the words nobody wants to read ‘flight cancelled’. I was in line, ready to hand over my boarding pass, it was about 4pm in Dallas airport, I was on my way to Birmingham, Alabama. I could hear the collective groan, conversations sprung up ‘Is there another flight?’ ‘Does this airport have a hotel?’

I looked outside and it was black, storms had descended, it matched the mood in line, which had also turned dark, disgruntled passengers started arguing with airline staff who are trying to keep their composure.

I’d already been in this airport almost 3 hours. I had a lovely burger and beer at ‘TGI” Fridays whilst watching French Open highlights, played around on my phone, been for a push through the terminal (I was bored by this point) and sat in front of a doughnut shop for 20 minutes trying to decide whether to take the plunge, I didn’t.

I was ready to leave, gosh darn it, but somebody upstairs decided to push the thunder and rain button and turn this airport into a chaotic mess. I finally made my way through the line up to the counter, clearly expecting to be put on a flight to Birmingham tomorrow. The passengers before me were being told ‘the 7pm flight tonight is overbooked, we’ll get you on your way tomorrow’

Resigned to my fate I hand over my boarding pass just waiting for the inevitable but instead I hear, ‘Mr Hall I’ve got you on the 7pm flight’. I don’t ask questions or even try to understand it, ‘Thanks very much’, and with that I’m off back into the abyss that is Dallas airport. I’ve got another 2 hours to kill, I call my buddy, Danny, who is planning to pick me up in Birmingham, tell him to hang tight, I’m on my way, just not yet. Well, what to do now?

Everyone has a time limit at airports, some people can occupy themselves quite happily, and others are manic and can’t wait to get the hell out. As I cruise around on another pushing expedition through various gates, I can see it on their faces, some are laughing playing on their phones and computers, others are pissed off trying to keep the kids happy.

As for me, I’ll have to hit the ‘reset’ button. I sit in front of a bar watching various suited men sink some beers watching ‘Sportscenter’. Maybe I should join them, strike up a conversation with a salesman from Oklahoma and spend some time on the beer train, nah knowing my luck I’d miss the flight altogether.

Does anyone want to get on the beer train?
Maybe beer will makes thing better.

Maybe I should get into an airline ‘lounge’, at least get some free food, nah, gone are the days when I had enough miles that at check in balloons and streamers would fall from the ceiling and I’d be treated like god.

So, instead I park it in front of gate 37 which is going to Guadalajara, Mexico and pull out Rob Lowe’s autobiography, a great read, good stories in there about the time he punched Tom Cruise in the face and how Cary Grant came running after him in a bathrobe. I listen to music; I people watch and go for another push. Some flights are now actually leaving; its still raining but there is hope.

Oh, the joys of flying!
Oh, the joys of flying!

Finally, 6.20pm rolls around, its time to go my gate, hallelujah, as I get close I check the board and as if on cue Birmingham switches from 7pm to ‘delayed’, 9pm take off. Are you kidding me, I can’t believe it, another 2 bloody hours. There’s only so much pushing I can do, I can’t people watch any longer. I call Danny; tell him the bad news, ‘Its all good’, he says. I should have gotten on that flight to Guadalajara; at least I’d be outta here.

Everything has shifted now, stranded passengers start roaming the terminal, lost and confused, we are the ‘airport zombies’, the undead with no purpose other than to roam aimlessly until our flight leaves or doesn’t. We don’t know how long we’ll be here and start to feel like that character in the Tom Hanks movie who actually lives in a ‘Terminal’.  I think that guy got a job in the movie; maybe I should start working in the doughnut shop. Two hours pass and you know what happens next. Another delay, 11pm take off.

Tom Hanks can't get out of the airport, neither can I.
Tom Hanks can’t get out of the airport, neither can I.

I would have arrived in Guadalajara by now, or I could have pushed to Birmingham. Finally at 11.50pm I am sitting on the plane, ready to take off, which I think is a miracle in itself. But wait, it can’t be this easy. The guy in an ‘exit’ row has to be able to speak English so as to understand instructions in case the plane plummets to the ground, well this guy can’t speak English and apparently really likes this seat because he won’t move when asked by the flight attendant. Oh great, another delay. Now the captain gets involved, the guy reluctantly moves and we must soon be on our way, surely.

Hang on, why are we still sitting here? Am I asleep, this must be a nightmare? No, now I hear the captain having a conversation with somebody about reaching his time limit of being on ‘duty’ and how we are getting very close to having to switch crews. This can’t be happening, if I close my eyes and wish hard enough that we start taxing to the runway then maybe it will happen, otherwise I’m going back to the terminal and will have about 6 doughnuts I decide.

Yum, doughnuts!
Yum, doughnuts!

Oh no, wait, I can’t believe the plane is actually moving, could this be true, I’m about to leave Dallas airport, hail god or Caesar or both. I’ll hail anybody at this point. I keep my eyes closed and wish this plane off the ground and all the way to Birmingham one hour and 40 minutes later, when after exiting this goddam aircraft I emerge into Birmingham airport at 1.40am, which is like a ghost town, I swear I saw a tumbleweed blow by. Danny is waiting curbside to pick me up, we both have a laugh, it’s all I can do really.




12 thoughts on “Help me, I’m trapped in Dallas airport”

  1. Here is one of our lasted flying stories. My family and I were unable to land so we were diverted to another airport in another city. Since we were on the last evening flight, they told us to sleep in the airport while they figured out what to do. My kids, 5 & 8 years old tried to sleep on me which was literally impossible but they managed to wedge their bodies in the seat with armrests… we started this journey at 12pm on Tuesday and we finally walked through our door till 8:30am the next day.

    1. What airline David? I’ll reconsider using them. I also can relate to some delays and scary landing etc. especially in Denver.

      Good read

      1. Oh yes, last time landing in Denver it felt like the plane was in a washing machine getting pulled every which way, not for the faint hearted, I should have had a few reds to calm the jitters.

    1. I can’t believe that you were there all that time and no one asked for your autograph little own recognise that they had such greatness in their presence. Glad you got there in the end bro. Lol. Xx

  2. On behalf of Ops Controllers worldwide, I apologise for first cancelling, and then delaying your flight to Alabama Mr Hall. Thunderstorms are a pain in the you know where though, as they can close the tarmac down for hours some times. Something about workplace health and safety for the bag chuckers. Apparently they make easy targets for lightning strikes!
    The number of times we’ve had a/c land and then taxi in, only to stand there for an hour or more before unloading, due to tarmac closure, I cant count!
    And then you get pilots ringing up saying “we’re not extending our duty hours so we’ll have to get off the plane and go to the hotel if we’re not gone in 15 minutes”. Nightmare!
    The US does it much better than us. They don’t have major airports with curfews like we do (Sydney, Coolie and Adelaide)! So you can still get to your destination in the middle of the night like you did.
    Anyway, another good read. Well done!

    1. Sheesh, I can’t believe I get called a ‘diva’, talk about them pilots.
      Coolio, to celebrate your expertise at Ops Controlling I suggest we smoke a cigar with a smoooooth muscat next time you are in Sydney, as if we need a reason !

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